Interview with Taj Deluria and Wael Lotfi, Tahadi Games
Taj and Wael talk to us about Tahadi’s MMO games.
The MMO (Massively Multiplayer Online) gaming scene has come alive in the UAE over the past year. Twelve months ago there were hardy any publishers working on MMO games for this region and now we have du, Game Power 7, Pixel Haze and Tahadi. As part of the Jabbar Internet Group, Tahadi are easily heavyweights in this division. Not only do they have the brains of ex-Maktoob boss Samih Toukan to back them up, but they also have online prepaid payment gateway CashU and Internet advertising platform iKoo as sister companies with obvious synergies.
Taj Deluria and Wael Lotfi, product managers at Tahadi Games talk to us about their current offerings as well as upcoming games.
MEGamers.com: What exactly does Tahadi do?
Wael: We’re game publishers. We don’t develop our own games, instead we host games, localize them, remove socially unacceptable content like gambling and sex and make the games more region friendly. We release the games in both Arabic and English.
MEGamers.com: Ragnorak Online is the first game you’ve released for this region. How’s it faring?
Wael: The game was commercially released in November 2009 and now has over 100,000 users. Players from over 65 countries now play the game. 50% of the gamers are from GCC countries while the majority of the rest are from other Arab countries. The game is incredibly popular among the 12-20 year-old core demographic.
MEGamers.com: Your second release, Krazy Cart is an MMO racing game. What demographic of gamers are playing the game?
Taj: Since it’s a more casual game, the demographic is a little more spread out. Over 5,000 gamers have played the game during the first month of the closed beta. More female gamers have played Crazy Kart than our other titles.
MEGamers.com: Tell us about Runes of Might. I hear you’ve had some rather interesting challenges releasing the game in Saudi Arabia.
Wael: The game was originally called Runes of Magic but we’ve had to change the name to Runes of Might (the Arabic version rougly translates to Legends of Might). The female characters are also covered up now from ankles to sleeve to respect Saudi sensibilities. We’ve also taken out some of the skimpy armors and costumes.
The storyline has been modified a bit as well to make it more socially acceptable in the region. We’re also adding a lot of other customizations including prayer announcements during Ramadan.
Our goal is to put the Middle East on the gaming map. With Runes of Might, we want to launch episodes the same time as the EU version with the same mechanics.
MEGamers.com: What else is in the immediate pipeline?
Wael: We’re releasing Heroes of Gaia, a turn-based browser game.
MEGamers.com: Why release the games in both English and Arabic?
Taj: We want to cater to the massive Arab population. A lot of gamers want to play with people who speak the same language and are from the same region and we give them the opportunity to do that. It’s also very helpful for Arab gamers to have an English version of the game as a lot of walkthroughs are written in English. Plus, if you want to research items within the game, Arabic words are spelt in so many different ways. It’s easier to look up the name of the item in English and search for it.
MEGamers.com: Tell us about your PvP server on Runes of Might.
Taj: We have a separate PvP server for those who want a more hardcore gaming experience. The big difference on this server is that if your character is killed, you lose two items from your backpack. Players on this server are incredibly competitive as it takes a lot of time and effort to obtain weapons.
It’s a very gang-like atmosphere on this server. Players generally carry around crap weapons if they’re alone but when they’re in a guild, they carry all the good stuff. Also, if someone kills you in the game, the person is added to your nemesis list and you can see when he’s online, track him down and get your guild to attack that person. It’s a lot of fun.
MEGamers.com: Do you have any message for gamers in the region?
Taj: Please play the game! We’re looking for hardcore gamers to join the team as Game Masters, translators and product managers. If you’re interested in working with us, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.